A Threefold Cord: Strand #1 – The Doctrinal Preacher

2 Timothy 4:2,3
       Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): It has been said that there are three kinds of preachers—doctrinal preachers, experimental preachers, and practical preachers.

JOHN CLAYTON (1754-1843): What are we to understand by Doctrinal, Experimental, and Practical Preaching?

JOHN DAVIES (circa 1798): The Doctrinal preacher is one who defends the outworks of Christianity; the Experimental preacher confines himself to temptations, trials, etc.; while the practical is a mere moral preacher…Faults of ministers lie in this, that though not exclusively inclined to one mode, yet they are so too prevalently.

JOHN CLAYTON: A preacher of doctrine is one who gives the preference to doctrine over experience or practice.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The doctrinal preacher generally has a limited range. He is useful, exceedingly useful; God constitutes him a barrier against the innovations of the times: he preaches upon his subjects so frequently that he is well versed in them. But suppose the doctrinal preacher should have it all his own way, and there should be none others at all, what would be the effect? See it in our Baptist churches [two] hundred and fifty years ago. They were all sound―and sound asleep. These doctrines had preached them into a lethargy, and had it not been for some few who started up and proposed the missions for the heathen, and who found but little sympathy at first, the church would have been utterly inactive.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Dead orthodoxy, in practice, is as bad as heterodoxy, because it is quite useless.

JOHN DAVIES: Doctrinal preaching will only carry light to the understanding, and may promote hypocrisy and spiritual pride.

JOHN CLAYTON: His followers [often] become dealers in notions, are fastidious and disputatious.

C. H. SPURGEON: Now, I would not be hard with any, but there are some brethren still whose preaching might justly be summed up as being doctrinal, nothing more than doctrinal, and what is the effect of their ministry? Bitterness. They learn to contend not only earnestly for the faith, but savagely for it. Certainly we admire their earnestness, and we thank God for their soundness, but we wish there were mingled with their doctrine a somewhat else which might tone down their severity and make them seek rather the unity and fellowship of the saints than the division and discord which they labour to create…You may have sound doctrine and yet do nothing unless you have Christ in your spirit. I have known all the doctrines of grace to be unmistakably preached, and yet there have been no conversions.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: You can be orthodox but dead. Why? Well, because you are stopping at the doctrines, you are stopping at the definitions, and failing to realize that the whole purpose of doctrine is not to be an end in itself, but to lead us to a knowledge of the Person [of Jesus Christ] and to an understanding of the Person, and to a fellowship with the Person….There are, indeed, churches today, and denominations, that are perfectly orthodox yet are quite dead. They do not seem to be used at all in the salvation of souls, nor really in giving their people assurance of salvation. Why? It is because they remain only on the level of doctrine—this intellectual concern and this intellectual correctness. It is a terrible thing to substitute even true doctrines for a living realization of the Person.

ANDREW BONAR (1810-1892): There is a wide difference between preaching doctrine and preaching Christ.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Yes; but let us remember there is a difference between preaching about doctrine and preaching doctrinally. By that I mean that you can preach doctrines in a purely intellectual and mechanical manner. You start with your doctrine, you expound it, and you end with it, and you have preached about the doctrine. That is not the business of preaching. The business of preaching is to preach doctrinally about God, about the Lord Jesus Christ, and about the Holy Spirit and their work for us in our salvation―We must not spend our time merely with the definitions and the statements, and stop at them, thus failing to arrive at a knowledge of the Persons, and failing truly to receive and to live the full Christian life.

C. H. SPURGEON: It was this glorious person whom Paul delighted to speak. He preached the doctrines of the gospel, but he did not preach them apart from the person of Christ. Do not many preachers make a great mistake by preaching doctrine instead of preaching the Saviour? Certainly the doctrines are to be preached, but they ought to be looked upon as the robes and vestments of the man Christ Jesus, and not as complete in themselves. I love justification by faith—I hope I shall never have a doubt about that grand truth; but the cleansing efficacy of the precious blood appears to me to be the best way of putting it. I delight in sanctification by the Spirit; but to be conformed to the image of Jesus, is as still sweeter and more forcible way of viewing it. The doctrines of the gospel are a golden throne upon which Jesus sits, as king—not a hard, cold stone rolled at the door of the sepulchre in which Christ is hidden.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Of course it is true that doctrine, like anything else in Scripture, may be studied from a merely cold intellectual viewpoint, and thus approached, doctrinal teaching and doctrinal study will leave the heart untouched, and will naturally be “dry” and profitless. But, doctrine properly received, doctrine studied with an exercised heart, will ever lead into a deeper knowledge of God and of the unsearchable riches of Christ.

HENRY FOSTER (1760-1844): We are often defective in not stating Doctrine. People are lamentably ignorant even after hearing for twenty years.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Of course a preaching which is non-doctrinal is, in the end, quite useless…The main trouble in the Church today—and I am speaking of evangelical churches in particular at this point—is the appalling superficiality.


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